Why your job posting sucks

Moving to the US in a couple of months, I’m currently confronted to one of my scariest nightmares, job hunting.
Not only that I’v never done it before despite my few years experience, but mainly because I’m moving to a new country with a totally different culture.

A quick search in any job board points out three main categories of ads :

– The ugly : Call me, I have an awesome career opportunity

Usually written by a recruiter who doesn’t know anything about the job, plenty of non related keywords and a vague description. Hopefully you can spot those quickly : the position is always awesome, JAVA is in the front-end requirements section between JAVASCRIPT and jQuery, and Photoshop is a must have in a Sr software engineer position.

–  The bad : Cover letter and resume mandatory !

Not as bad, the typical ones, mostly corporate recruiters: Really long Requirements section, locals only, no relocation, a B.S as minimum and not a single word about how the hell I want to work for them, not a mention of the salary range and benefits, no perks and not a word about the company’s culture. those can attract some local available folks, but they are as good as the job posting !

–  The good, portfolio based

The rare gems, Brief and to the point, by reading the job description you feel the company’s desire to attract open minded crowd, sometimes you don’t even need a resume, a simple link to your portfolio and you’re done. they want to know what you’ve done and not how well you can write a resume. take a look at those : Etsy, thoughtbotpantheon.

Why github is not my resume !

Asking for a github account is becoming the standard those days, moving from France where it’s still rare for a company to ask for code samples, I imagined that those companies certainly had github account themselves. So I checked it out, and sadly they didn’t.

The truth is that half of the companies asking for a full list of OSS contributions don’t contribute to OSS themselves. and you know why ? because they’re busy making money.

I can understand that, it’s common sense, a company’s main purpose is to make money after all. So why the hell they’re asking me to stop making money, put aside my personal life, and spend hundreds of hours working for free ?

Believe me I’m not against open source, I’m a web developer after all and I can put food on the table every day thanks to those generous people who donate their time to create awesome free software.
but not doing so doesn’t make me less of a developer and it certainly doesn’t make me less passionate about my job.

An alternative, the one thing we can take from Facebook

It’s easy for a hiring manager to ask for a portfolio or a github account, it’s a really good screening step, so keep that in your job postings, but it’s not enough.

Provide a way for people to show you their code, in your own business context.

Facebook allows candidates to get noticed by solving logic puzzles, why not forge that idea to your own company’s needs ?

Instead of asking for a full blown open source project, Ask for some code samples that are relevant to your business. If you’re an ecommerce shop, ask for a billing module. If you’re into drupal, ask for a small plugin, if you do wordpress. … switch to drupal :-p

Provide an alternative for people to show you their code with your own specs. most applicants will not bother wasting time doing that, but some of them will, make it a bonus point, not a requirement.

It will take some time to come up with a good technical challenge but It shows that :

a/ A candidate can actually write code to solve a real problem that you, as a company, face every day.
b/ He’s motivated enough to be part of your team.

Conclusion

A job posting should reflect a company’s culture, go straight to the point, ask only what’s really required, people can learn fast, especially developers.
Code should definitely be your screening step 0, whether it’s a public contribution or a solution to a technical problem that you face.